Thursday, February 28, 2019

PRNC votes to oppose BNSF plan to run diesel trains in Miller Knox Regional Park

   POINT RICHMOND - The Point Richmond Neighborhood Council unanimously approved a motion Wednesday night opposing a plan by Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad (BNSF) to run diesel engines and railcars through Miller Knox Regional Park along the shoreline to Ferry Point.
     The details of the Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad's plans were revealed in a presentation by Carol Johnson of the East Bay Regional Park District and Eric Zell of Point Richmond. Zell is working with the district opposing BNSF's plans.

The tracks - and trains - would run along the shoreline to the right
     Johnson told the PRNC that the park district is moving ahead with a land use plan amendment (LUPA) for improving the heavily-used, 295-acre park.
     The improvements planned include a major sprucing up of the lagoon (including dredging), construction of more parking and picnic areas as well as adding a promenade-path from Ferry Point to the lagoon trail.
     But the district's plans are bumping into claims by BNSF that the corporation owns the rights along the shore to use it for a rail line - and the company plans to do so soon.
     "BNSF has not recently operated trains within the easement area, but it has notified the Park District of its expanding business at Richmond Terminal, necessitating the reactivation of its rail use within the easement in the near future," attorney L. John Nelson IV said in a letter to the district dated Oct. 9, 2018.
     Nelson is with the legal firm of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith representing BNSF.
     The detailed letter - laced with legal citations - attacks the assumptions and conclusions of a draft environmental impact report on the Miller Knox regional shoreline plan amendment.
     East Bay's Johnson said the park district is contesting BNSF's contention that it still owns the tracks all the way to ferry point - and the corporation's stated intention of reopening and reusing the rail line.
     She said the district is already battling with the railroad corporation on the legal front, but needs public help and support.
     The multi-clause motion approved Wednesday by the PRNC includes language opposing BSNF's track renovation plans, supports the park district's land use plan amendment, asks the City of Richmond to investigate ongoing problems with BNSF trains on tracks at West Richmond Avenue and directs the PRNC board to send a delegate to the March 19 East Bay Regional Park board meeting to support the proposed improvements to Miller Knox.

The proposed BNSF railroad and tracks would run along the bay shoreline on the right

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